The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – has fined 14 New England employers during this fiscal year for various violations that enabled companies to hire illegal workers, according to a news release from ICE. The fines in the New England region, which include two companies in Maine and Massachusetts accounting for over $200,000 of the fine settlements, follow an investigation and audit of Form I-9 documents used to verify the employment eligibility of newly hired workers.
The inspections of the Employment Eligibility Verification documents – also known as “Form I-9s” – are part of the ICE worksite enforcement strategy to reduce the demand for illegal employment and protect employment opportunities for the nation’s lawful workforce. ICE is focusing on the auditing and investigation of employers suspected of cultivating illegal workplaces by hiring workers not eligible to work in the United States. Nationally, from fiscal year 2009 to date, ICE has initiated Form I-9 inspections against nearly 4,000 businesses resulting in fines of nearly $7 million.
Employers are required to complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This form requires employers to review and record the individual’s identity and employment eligibility document, or documents, and determine whether the document or documents reasonably appear to be genuine and related to the individual. Additionally, an employer must ensure that the employee provides certain information regarding his or her eligibility to work on the Form I-9.
One emerging trend in 2011 is that employers are taking steps to ensure they hire a legal workforce by using E-Verify, a free Internet-based electronic employment eligibility verification system operated by the U.S. government that enables employers to verify the employment eligibility of their employees by comparing data from the Form I-9 against records in DHS and Social Security Administration (SSA) databases. Currently, federal contractors and subcontractors in all states must use E-Verify and many U.S. states have additional mandates on the use of E-Verify by employers. A listing of current E-Verify requirements can be found at http://www.trackercorp.com/everify-legislation-map.php.
Employers may choose to have a Designated E-Verify Employer Agent assist them in maintaining compliance with the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification process. Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a nationwide background check company accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) – is a Designated E-Verify Employer Agent that can help employers virtually eliminate I-9 form errors, improve the accuracy of their reporting, protect jobs for authorized workers, and help maintain a legal workforce. To learn more about ESR’s E-Verify services, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/formi9.php.
About Employment Screening Resources (ESR): Founded in 1997 in the San Francisco area with a mission to help employers and employees maintain safe workplaces, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) and provides industry leading technology, legal compliance, service, turnaround, and accuracy. ESR also wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by founder and President Lester Rosen. For more information, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com.